The Pleasures Of The Dairy
I love how our farm is divided into 2 distinct seasons. In the winter, all activity takes place around the barn, cheese room, and cave, where it's all about the cow, and all things bovine. It's a wonderful routine. Our cows calve in November, and, since we don't ship fluid milk ( like most farmers do), we go right to cheesemaking. Even after making cheese for more than 30 years, I always find the process thrilling. To be able to take such a wonderful yet perishable product like milk and turn it into cheese never ceases to amaze.
But, it's more than just about the cheese. It's the caring for the cows, the wonderful smells and sounds of the barn. It's our great community of friends and neighbors who stop by when they know we are in the barn doing chores to visit, and buy fresh, creamy milk right from the bulk tank. It's also the kids who come here and get to taste what real milk tastes like, to pet the calves, and to help feed the cows, to watch milking and learn where their milk comes from.
Before we leave the world of cheese, and move on to the vegetable season of the farm, I wanted to share one of my favorite treats from this past winter. It's a wonderful recipe for cheese crackers from the lovely new cookbook ' around my french table' by Dorie Greenspan (and edited by my friend Rux Martin) . I use a mixture of Orb Weaver cave and regular waxed cheese, but feel free to use a nice Gruyere, or any cheese to your liking.
8 Tablespoons ( 1 stick) cold butter cut into small pieces
1/4 pound grated cheese, about 1 cup ( I use 1/2 cave aged, and 1/2 farmhouse )
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white flour
Put butter, cheese, salt, hot and ground peppers in a food processor and pulse until the mixture makes small curds
add the flour and pulse until mixed and curds form again ( can take up to 1 minute)
Turn onto work surface, shape into 2 logs, and wrap in saran, Chill for at least an hour
Preheat oven to 350º
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Cut chilled logs into 1/4" discs
Place on baking sheet, and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
Cool on rack